Council leaders across England have warned today that crucial social care and homelessness services are looking down the barrel at further Tory cuts to local authority funding.
The Local Government Association (LGA) report that government grant funding for local services will be cut by a further £1.3 billion (36%) in 2019/20, with the LGA warning “the financial viability of some councils is now under threat”.
The LGA claim that almost half of councils (168) will no longer receive any Revenue Support Grant funding next year, at a time when councils “are increasingly unable to provide dignified care for our elderly and disabled, protect children, boost economic growth, fill potholes, build homes and much more”.
Since 2010, councils have lost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services, says the LGA.
The LGA have urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to use the Autumn Budget later this month (29 October 2018) “to tackle the immediate funding crisis” faced by a growing number of local authorities in England.
“Funding pressures and rising demand for services, such as adult and children’s social care and homelessness support, will leave local services in England facing a £3.9 billion funding black hole next year”, the LGA claim on its website.
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the LGA’s Resources Board, said: “Unprecedented funding pressures and demand for adult and children’s social care and homelessness services is pushing councils to the limit.
“As a result less money is being spent on the other services that keep our communities running such as libraries, local roads, early intervention and local welfare support.”
He continued: “Losing a further £1.3 billion of central government funding at this time is going to tip many councils over the edge.
“Many local authorities will reach the point where they only have the funds to provide statutory responsibilities and it will be our local communities and economies who will suffer the consequences.
“In his Spring Statement in March, the Chancellor said he would invest in public services if public finances improve as recent forecasts have suggested. It is therefore vital that the Government addresses the growing funding gaps facing councils in 2019/20 in the Autumn Budget.
“If the Government fails to adequately fund local government there is a real risk to the future financial viability of some services and councils.
“If the residents of any council face the prospect of closures to leisure centres and libraries, cuts to vital home care for the elderly and more potholes on local roads, then millions of residents are living in areas where their council will be forced to do the same.
“Investing in local government is good for the nation’s prosperity, economic growth and for the health and well-being of our nation. It will boost economic growth, reduce demand for services and save money for the taxpayer and others part of the public sector.”
Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said: “This Government has created the largest financial crisis in local government in history, but even as their own councils go bust, they are too blind to see the damage they are causing.
“After 8 years of austerity from the Tories it’s clear that the Government has abandoned local communities to fend for themselves.
“The next Labour Government will sustainably fund our councils and put an end to this crisis.”